Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Day The Music Died

Today, twenty years ago, the music died on me. 

It came as a shock, and though rumours had been abound, I had refused to listen to them. Although I knew that it was forthcoming, still when the day came, I was stunned. I grew up admiring him and adoring his music and boy, did he come out with some everlasting songs and music in his lifetime. 
I was only 13 when he won the 1976 Bintang RTM singing competition, singing Seruling Bambu and Big Spender and he made a big impression on me. Of course all the boys at MRSM KB who was watching (at the tv room above the Dewan Makan) had a field day with the latter song, due to the double meaning of the title of the song. Double meaning never ceases to amuse men! Or boys in this case, and everybody would go around, screaming, “Hey, big spender!”
When he released his first EP Teriring Doa, I had no hesitancy in buying it (though on second thought, I think that probably it was Mak who bought it at my request). I think it cost her RM1.75 for the EP – big money those days, mind you. Now, many would claim to be his fans, but not many would be able to claim to have his original vinyl from his first release – long before he became very big with his releases in 1980. 
The songs were great premonition of what the future holds for him. The title song is great but I especially love the song “Suratku Yang Ini” – in this song, a girl is reading up her letter, telling his boyfriend/lover/husband about how frustrating and confused she is with his ‘immense’ love. She sounds so frail in this song – all the more reasons to really love this song. (Being the incurable romantic that I was, huh?)
First ever EP in 1977. From my own personal collection

His second album Aku Penghiburmu in 1978 (though he in a later album referred to it as his first) was to take him to greater height. It’s an unforgettable album, more so for the fact that I was very disappointed with Ahmad Nawab for giving his songs (KasihGugur Ditangkai Madu and Aku Penghiburmu) to the late Broery Marantika when the former left EMI for WEA and Sudir had to compete with Broery for the fans’ preference. Mak being a Broery’s fan, thought that Broery’s delivery was better, while I was rooting and advocating for the newbie. On the radio, you would hear both versions being aired, competing for our attentions. It was unreal. Those were the extra-ordinary days.
Then, obviously I lived on Sudir’s songs. My siblings and I would take turn buying his vinyls, and his vinyls did not only contain great songs, but also contain his funny sketches. (He is such a good artist!) No, we didn’t have to wait until we were sure that they would become popular, we knew we were going to love all his songs! 

It was as simple as that.
Anyway, it is not my intention to list down all his songs, but suffice to say that all the songs in his albums are great song. Beyond getting great compositions from S Atan, he wrote many songs himself – Aku Penganggur, “Nilai Cintamu” and “Dimanakah Nilai Cintamu are some of the great songs written by him. Now, that’s rare in those days; no, make it even today. Most singers would be relying on the songs factory that was Ahmad Nawab.
Maya and Ana (tak dapat dilupakan) are two beautiful songs written for two girls. Maya is about his childhood sweetheart with whom he had happy memories - a song that will always remain in my heart. However Ana is perhaps more melancholic (I still melt hearing the orchestral violin, and the saxophone) – I love both nonetheless.
Some of my Sudir's LP collection
In 1980, he came out two great albums – Anak Muda and Lagu Anak Desa. Now that’s a rarity by today’s standard – that an artist is able to release two albums in a year – normally he would be lucky to have one a year. He was at the height of his popularity and creativity. I think I had memorized all the songs from those albums and would be humming his songs at every opportunity while of course preparing for my SPM. 
A best friend, Kodeq (one Madhadzir Hassan from Darwin 5), noted in jest in my autograph book at the end of 1980, in his Penang slang, “Hang ni lagi satu, fanatik sangat kat Sudirman, semua lagu dia hang suka, sampai baghah telinga aku, berlendir malah berlendiaq.” Hahaha, correct, Deq, you are 100% correct, well said! That’s me in the late 70s and nothing has changed in 2007.
I still remember that day in 1992. It was mid-day, the end of a half day working Saturday, while waiting for my bus at Central Market (I was working at Dayabumi), when The Malay Mail (they were then an afternoon edition) broke the news of his death. I was crushed but I knew exactly how an article should be written in tribute to him in the newspaper. I called up a reporter at the The Star and told her to use the phrase from the Don McClean’s song (American Pie) “the day the music died” as a title for her write-up. She did just that for an article that contained interviews with Sudir’s fans, including this writer. (Of course having the uncommon surname Hariri would prevent my full name from appearing in that article, since the reporter is another Hariri. That would be nepotism, wouldn’t it?). The title and my rambling appeared on Page 3 of The Star the next day and I had a personality change to H.Abdul Rahman. That was my two paragraphs worth of fame!
The Day After - Dad and son in a solemn mood as they reflect on life without his music at their home in Sri Gombak. On the table were the day's newspapers and his LPs. The headlines that say Sudir is Dead (Malay Mail), Sudirman Sudah Mati (Metro), Sudir Dies (The Star) had caused a furore and they had to explained their reasons for choosing such insensitive title no matter how correct the language was. I used to keep the clippings till I lost them a few years back after moving one house too many.
Newspaper reporting his death on Feb 23, 1992

That day, the music had died on me. To me Sudirman is The Music. Sure, his music lives on and will outlive me, but The Music died that day!

Tags: sudir
Thursday February 22, 2007 - 12:32am (SGT) Permanent Link | 1 Comment

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